In my adult life, I have learned a lot about love, and I guess the biggest thing I've learned is that love is not a feeling; love is the things that we do. Do you remember what you thought about love when you were younger? I remember thinking that love must be thrilling, exhilarating, and blissful. My ideas about love probably started with some Disney movie, and then continued with 90210 and whatever other TV shows and movies I was into as a teenager. Although I heard from many grown-ups in my life that "love is an action," I really didn't grasp that until I was older.
You know what else I've learned about love? I've learned that martyring myself doesn't prove my love for someone. I've learned that taking great care of myself is a way of loving my family. I've learned that sometimes, when it comes to my kids, I don't have to say yes to every single thing. They might not understand my love now, but they will when they are older. I didn't always understand that my parents loved me, and I'm sure there were several years when they didn't feel very warm and fuzzy about me, but their acts of love continued - making sure I was fed, clothed, educated, and given opportunities - and I can see that today.
The truth is, most of us are suckers for love stories, but not the unsexy stories that focus on real acts of love. We like romance. And when it comes to our kids, we enjoy those special warm and fuzzy moments like Christmas or birthdays, but we don't feel warm and fuzzy about the loving acts that we do every day. Changing a diaper is a loving act, trust me. (Consider the alternative.) Going to work every day is a loving act. Making sacrifices to raise your kids according to your beliefs is a loving act. Sometimes, sacrificing the feel-good moments for the greater good is a loving act (like when you have to say no to something your kid wants to buy, because you are spending that money on something more important, like contributing to your retirement account).
And here are some love stories that I see in my line of work every day:
~The spouses who execute healthcare directives, so that one spouse is not left agonizing over important medical decisions.
~The spouses who organize their assets so that a surviving spouse doesn't have to go to court to gain access to them.
~The working spouse who buys a life insurance policy so that a stay-at-home spouse is not left penniless and hopeless if something happens.
~The parents who start planning for retirement and end-of-life care early, so that their kids are not overly burdened with their care later in life.
~The parents who execute a KidsCare Plan, so that their kids are always with the right people, no matter what happens.
~The parents who ensure that their family always has quick access to financial resources and are never left paying thousands of dollars to get access to the money they need.
~The parents who make sure that the kids' inheritance is safeguarded until they are through college so that they have every opportunity in life.
~The parent who makes sure that their child always has an inheritance, even if the surviving spouse remarries.
~The parents who record a special message to their kids, so that their kids always have guidance, even if the parents are no longer there.
And there are so many more. Estate Planning is the ultimate act of love - ensuring that your family is cared for even if you're not here. It probably won't give you that warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you see your kid on her first ride at Disneyland, and you won't get any I-love-you's from your kids for doing it, but you'll know that your loved ones will always be taken care of, no matter what happens in life.
That's what love is all about.
To your family's health & prosperity,
P.S. Want to get started on the most important planning you'll ever do for your family? Give our office a call at (503) 235-5150 to get started. You'll be glad you did.